RealTime IT News

Microsoft Unveils New Partner Vision

Aiming to arm its partners with additional tools to expand their businesses, Microsoft Thursday introduced a new Microsoft Partner Program at its inaugural Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in New Orleans.

The software titan said it built the program from a "partner's point of view." It began developing the program in August 2002, the first "comprehensive new direction" for Microsoft's partner programs since it launched the Solution Provider program in 1993.

"As we announce this new program today, every decision we've made has been critically measured against what we heard from our partners and customers," said Allison Watson, vice president of the Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft. "Our goal is to bring true innovation in partnering to complement Microsoft's technical and marketing innovation, enabling partners to capitalize on new opportunities and bring real business value to customers. We will do this by building the best-in-class industry partner program, one that facilitates strong relationships and generates results for our partners."

Microsoft said it looked to more than 50 global focus groups, surveys, collaboration with every Microsoft business group, and thousands of individual discussions with partners to build the new program, which it plans to launch in January 2004. The company said the program will deliver increased benefits and value to industry partners over the next 18 months.

The new program will tailor benefits to partners' specific needs, by measuring skills, customer satisfaction, and influence in addition to sales volume and technical certifications. Based on the needs, Microsoft will provide help with business development, communications and marketing, and increased product support and training. In addition, the company said the program will be simpler for partners to work by providing a centralized way to engage Microsoft and access the tools and resources needed.

Microsoft said the plan also provides a significant benefit to customers because the plan breaks partners' abilities down into 11 specialization areas. This, the company said, will allow customers to more easily choose the industry partner suited to their needs.

"The new program really hits on key business drivers," said Andy Vabulas, CEO of I.B.I.S., a solutions provider based in Norcross, Ga. "It aligns ours skills and ability to be successful with clients in a way that Microsoft and the market recognize. And, by streamlining different programs, Microsoft's partner brands such as Certified and Gold Certified will have more meaning, allowing our customers to recognize who's who."